Whitechapel’s ‘guerrilla toff’ sets up in the City

THE protester who swam in the Thames to sabotage theOxford-Cambridge Boat Race because it was “elitist” is to stage his annual festival in the the beating heart of capitalism.

Trenton Oldfield was sentenced to six months’ jail for causing a public nuisance when he stopped the race between the universities last April.

The 36-year-old and his partner and co-activist Deepa Naik have announced that their This Is Not A Gateway (Tinag) festival, “a protest at the way modern cities are run”, will be held at the Bishopsgate Institute (pictured). The petite Art Nouveau-style building huddles near Liverpool Street station among the multimillion-pound towers of the City of London.

For disrupting the Boat Race, which had been held for more than 150 years, Oldfield was sent to Wormwood Scrubs prison last October. He was released early in December to detention at his home in a 1930s block of flats in Whitechapel, saying that he had been jailed for his “direct action protest against the entirely unnecessary and violent inequalities in Britain and the culture of elitism that enables such inequalities to persist and increase”. 

Oldfield, who was called a “privately educated guerrilla toff” in The Observer, hopes that sales of his prison diary to festival-goers will help him to settle the £750 costs imposed by the court. The festival runs from 25 to 27 January 2013.

He says that unlike most festivals, “events at Tinag are overwhelming female, ‘minority’ lead [sic] and create possibilities through discursive and propositional work”.

The Tinag website suggests: “Join us at the Bishopsgate Institute as hundreds of people come together to tackle The Urban Industry and its Post Critical Condition through a number of critical strands. The two day event will also forge a new lexicon and also publish a list of demands and actions for the year ahead”. 

If you haven’t a degree in Academese, and you still want to learn the meaning of such phrases, or if you think you a lexicon can be created,  you’ll be pleased to hear that the festival is free (although a rattle of collection buckets can be heard already). This possibly intellectual festival could be as stimulating as previous Tinags.

* This Is Not A Gateway, Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 4QH.

* Emboldened underscored words indicate a hyperlink.

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